Saturday, March 26, 2011

Part 60 by Tessa Brooke

              Sleep wasn't possible that night for Laurel.  Too many pictures going through her head---none of them good.  She threw back her blanket and tip toed out of the tent---one of the few remaining because of her.  She had nearly destroyed them all.  She tried to believe that it wasn't her fault but she knew it was.  She couldn't hide behind excuses anymore.  She had to face the harsh reality---she wasn't fit to be alive, let alone be a Dragon Rider.  But she was both and she was determined to not defer from her mission.  She would rid her world of Melkor and his minion Stepheneis and then she would disappear.  No one would miss her---even Landlion would welcome her disappearance.  A smile played at the corner of her mouth.  "Watch out, Laurel is in the game now and you just better be worried."
 
               The camp was bustling before even the first slivers of light ran through the sky.  Though busy, the forest was silent---almost deathly so.  Kyrian took a deep breath before walking toward Tomas.
"Tomas?"  He didn't move.  She softly said his name again.  He still didn't react.  She walked to his side and peered at his face.  He was staring fixedly at the horizon.
"What are you doing Tomas?"  Kyrian ventured to ask.  Tomas grasped her hand in an iron grip.  Kyrian swallowed back her tears and gave his hand a gentle squeeze.  They remained that way until the sun broke over the mountains.

               "Laurel!  Where is that girl?"  Mintara fumed as she wove through the chaos at an inhuman speed.
"If she causes anymore trouble I swear I'll kill her myself.  I thought her childish tantrums and stupidly stubborn self were bad but now I know---where is this girl?" 
"I'm right here Mintara."  Laurel stepped out from behind a pile of equipment.
"Come here.  I am going to give you instructions and you are going to follow them down to the very last letter.  You do something stupid and it will be the last thing you do.  Do you understand?  Good.  Now, you and Cerelda will stay behind the ranks.  I will have a way of communicating with you, which I will show you in a moment, and you will do exactly, exactly what I say.  We may need to use you as bait to draw out Melkor and Stepheneis but mainly our goal is to keep you alive and let you and Cerelda do the most damage you can where and when it is needed." 
"I get the point, Mintara.  Don't be an idiot and listen to you." 
"Exactly.  Now I am going to have to communicate with you during the battle and there is one way which we can do it.  It's called mind speaking.  It's basically like talking to Cerelda but slightly more complicated.  Here, let me show you."
It doesn't necessarily feel pleasant but this is what we'll have to do.
Laurel jerked her head back.  Mintara's lips hadn't moved yet she heard her voice.  The sensation was more than unpleasant, it was incredibly creepy.  Mintara's voice was definitely not the one she wanted in her head.

"To respond you simply have to think your thought but in order to make sure you don't start speaking in some random person's head you need to take a few precautions.  You have to pull your whole concentration on one thing---me.  It's difficult to act rationally and mind speak but we shouldn't have to worry about that since you never really acted rationally anyway.  Just so long as you can do what I tell you it should be good.  Now you try."
Laurel let another smile play at her lips before concentrating all her being on her image of Mintara.
Um, I think I'm doing it.  Is this how it is supposed to work Mintara?
Mintara nodded.
"Good.  One last thing.  I would prefer it if you leave Melkor to me.  Preferably you would leave Stepheneis too but I know that won't happen.  Just don't get between Melkor and me."
Laurel nodded with no inclination to do any such thing.  Mintara turned and went back to dodging soldiers and piles of equipment.
"Does she really  think I'm going to agree to that?  Ha!  I should think not.  I won't sit back and be her puppy for long."  She muttered under her breath.
"Let the war begin.  I am ready.  Come and find me.  I won't be as easy to ensnare as last time Melkor.  Remember that."  She let out an unnatural laugh and walked away.  It was time for action.

Part 59 by Taylor

Laurel and Cerelda attacked again and again. Laurel felt the lust for blood inside of her, but something else as well. Remorse? Sadness? No, it couldn't be. The only thing she should feel for the rebels was disgust. She resolutely pushed the other baffling feelings aside.

She landed Cerelda on a grassy knoll overlooking the blazing camp. She grinned a little in satisfaction at the destruction. A figure in white moved through the camp. She spun while holding her staff above her head. A downpour of rain drenched the fires in a wide radius around her. Laurel growled low in her throat and kicked Cerelda in the ribs.

The bronze dragon made a wide arc through the sky and swooped down behind the wizard. Just when Laurel thought that they had her, Mintara back-flipped up past the dragon's groping talons and landed behind Laurel. The elf let out an outraged cry and drew her sword, slashing at the white figure. Mintara blocked with her staff as the enraged elf continued to attack. Cerelda, without any direction and thought of her own, flew aimlessly with the two sparring women on her back.

                                                                                       ~

Tomas ran through the thick smoke, coughing and holding his sleeve over his mouth and nose. He couldn't see anything. He could only hope that he was running away from the fire, not toward. A new line of fire blazed up in front of him. Tomas yelled and skidded to a stop, sliding on the ashen grass. Flames leapt toward him, clinging to his clothes and hair. He dropped to the ground and rolled himself in his cloak, desperately trying to smother the flames. The heat was unbearable. He screamed in agony as the flames engulfed him. Fire was everywhere. A dark shape fell on him and grabbed him by his cloak. He felt himself lifted just before he blacked out.

Kyrian ran with the others and searched the tents that were still flaming for survivors. She still hadn't located Tomas. She could only pray that he had gotten himself to safety. A dark figure on the ground made Kyrian pause. She raced to the prone man and pulled him away from the blazing tent. His hand was burned, but not too badly. Kyrian dragged him to a safe distance and flipped him over. "Landlion! Are you all right?" Kyrian could have kicked herself for not remembering Landlion's disability. He could have easily died while she was running around like an idiot. Landlion coughed and opened his eyes a little. He stared above Kyrian's head as his eyes widened. Kyrian looked up as well and saw the battle in the air between the enraged elf and determined wizard.

Laurel, strengthened by the marse's power, was indeed a formidable foe. Her moves were so unpredictable that Mintara had all she could handle just blocking the wild attacks. Cerelda suddenly screeched and lurched sideways, her wings flapping furiously to balance herself from the weight that had slammed into her side. Emerion dove away from her claws and raked her side with his razor-like, silver horn. Cerelda, infuriated by the smaller creature, turned her long neck and snapped at him. Emerion dodged just in time and carved a line on her passing head. He turned and shot forward, the maddened dragon giving chase just as he had intended. He swooped down low over the charred camp, a white blur, slender wings slicing through the air. Cerelda followed, the two powerful persons on her back still sparring.

She steadily gained on the unicorn until she opened her jaws to grab him. Emerion suddenly dropped to the ground, and Cerelda flew right into a net that she had failed to notice in her blind rage. Emerion had dived underneath her as she had flown over him and knocked Mintara and Laurel off the dragon's back before they too became ensnared. Mintara, who had been expecting it, grabbed Emerion's mane and swung onto his back as Laurel fell to the ground. A group of men were waiting, courtesy of Kyrian. They grabbed the falling elf and quickly tied her up before she could do any more damage. "To my tent," Mintara directed.

Kyrian helped Landlion limp to the tent, his arm wrapped around her shoulder as he leaned on her. They stepped into the un-harmed tent, which apparently had some spell over it to keep it safe. Mintara and Goricnal were sitting together, talking in grave tones. They both looked up at Kyrian and Landlion's entrance. Mintara nodded shortly and stood up. "Out of 8,000 soldiers, we have lost approximately 1,500. About 5,700 are wounded." Everyone winced at the ill tidings. "Where's Tomas?" Kyrian asked. Mintara and Goricnal shared a look. "He's in the infirmary. He was badly burned," Mintara offered. "That dragon had let loose a stream of fire practically on top of him. Earlier, that unicorn had come to get me to help him rescue survivors. When we saw Tomas, he swooped down and dropped me on top of him, then came back around and I grabbed his mane and hoisted both of us up. Then he dropped us off and went to go help you," he finished, gesturing to Mintara. "How bad is he?" Kyrian demanded, jumping up. "We don't know," Mintara waved her hand. "He'll live. We have more important things to discuss. Like our possessed Dragon Rider."

Kyrian turned on her heel and fled the tent. She ran through the camp, or what was left of it. Men were still killing small renegade fires, but it was under control. She reached the makeshift hospital and pushed her way inside. Most recognized her as a general and made no move to stop her. She reached the intensive care place and saw Tomas stretched out with two doctors bent over him. One turned and caught her before she reached Tomas. "General Kyrian, I'm sorry, but you cannot be here." He pushed her from the tent with stern orders not to return, but not before Kyrian had caught a glimpse of Tomas. Burns covered him from head to toe. Chunks of his blond hair had been burned away. His face had angry scars as well. His chest barely rose as he breathed shallowly. Outside the tent, Kyrian sank down and sobbed.

Mintara, Landlion, Goricnal, Emerion, and a brawny man holding the squirming and kicking Dragon Rider went to a tent that had been reserved for them. "On the table," Mintara said with a nod. The soldier was only too glad to be rid of the struggling elf, and put her down on the table. Laurel was tied hand and foot with a gag in her mouth so as not to draw attention, but she still looked at her former comrades with hate smoldering in her eyes. "Do you know how to do this?" Landlion asked Mintara as she and Goricnal strapped Laurel down. "I read about it once somewhere," the wizard answered vaguely. Landlion and Goricnal exchanged a worried look.

As Kyrian walked, she heard screaming from a tent. She quickened her pace and burst into the tent to see Mintara bending over Laurel's head while the girl screamed in agony. Kyrian looked over to see Goricnal and Landlion sitting off to the side with pale faces. Mintara leaned back and let out a sound of intense frustration and anger. Laurel quite screaming and her eyes slid shut in exhaustion. "What are you trying to do?" Kyrian asked, a little taken aback like the men. "I'm trying to draw out the memory blocker!" Mintara snapped. She bent back over Laurel's head, muttering something about stupid people who asked stupid questions. Kyrian went and sat down with the other two, waiting.

Several attempts later, Mintara threw down her staff in anger. "If I ever find that marse, I swear, I will make him pay for all he's putting us through." She stormed from the tent, and the three still remaining exchanged glances. Laurel still lay on the table, breathing hard in ragged gasps.

Kyrian was about to go and find Mintara when the wizard re-entered with Emerion. She appeared quite a bit calmer, an effect Kyrian knew came straight from the gentle unicorn. "Emerion reminded me that we are stronger together, so we're going to try this again." She and the unicorn went to Laurel's head. Emerion lowered his horn over her and crossed it with Mintara's staff. They both closed their eyes as the staff and horn began to glow with a white light. "I wish I knew what was going on," Kyrian whispered. "It's called joint wizardry," Landlion explained. "It's when two wizards join power. One wizard provides the energy, and the other maneuvers it. Right now, Emerion is providing the energy, and Mintara is concentrating on drawing out the memory blocker." Kyrian and Goricnal looked at him in surprise. "I read a lot now that I seem to have a lot of time on my hands," Landlion shrugged, tapping his injured leg.

Suddenly, Laurel started to choke. Landlion staggered to his feet and made a move as to help, but Kyrian grabbed his arm. Laurel's breathing cleared and changed to a peaceful sound instead of the raggedy noise earlier. Mintara and Emerion separated and stepped back, both looking a little winded. "Is she healed?" Goricnal dared to ask. Mintara offered a tired, half-smile. "Yes, she's going to be all right."

                                                                                      ~

It was the next morning before Emerion and Mintara managed to heal Cerelda as well. The dragon shuddered as if shaking off some stupor. Her eyes were clear and intelligent once more, albeit a bit bewildered. She apparently remembered nothing of her forced allegiance to the enemy. Emerion went and informed her of what had happened and apologized for the gash on her side and face. Of course, no one else could hear their conversation, but Cerelda nodded frequently and a horrified look crossed her face from time to time.

Laurel slept. "Is she all right?" Landlion asked. "Yes, her body is destroying the poison," Mintara explained. "She should be ready in time."
"In time for what?"
"We're attacking tomorrow morning."

Kyrian sat by Tomas, holding his hand as he slept. The healers had done all they could for him. The worst of his burns had been healed, and he could move around, but he was horribly scarred. He hadn't said a word since his terrible ordeal. Kyrian worried for him. When asked if he would fight, he had nodded. Kyrian had every intention of keeping a close eye on him so he wouldn't do something stupid.

                                                                                  ~

That night, Laurel walked through the camp. Tears trailed down her cheeks as she surveyed the damage. She heard footsteps behind her and turned to find Cerelda, who also look immeasurably heavy-hearted as well. "Oh Cerelda, what have we done?" she whispered.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Part something or another by Emily

"They reside in the forest master." Laurel said bowing low. "They knew my name and called for me. I disabled a dwarf in a fight and went for the wizard when I heard your call. What do you require?"
 "Job well done Rider." Stepheneis chuckled. "I require you to flame their calvary. It is their strongest point of attack therefore we must disarm them there." He motioned with his hand for her to rise. "Raze it all. Let none live- except the wizard and the blue eyed girl. Bring them to me and your reward will be great."
  "Yes Master." she bowed again. She twirled quickly, her new obsidian cloak filled out behind her.  Her tall black boots went clack on the blue tiles.  She chuckled maliciously when she reached her tired dragon. "Time to work Cerelda."
~

  Kyrian stoked the fire. The flames grew higher and they leapt in wayward directions. In Kyrian's imagination the flames took shapes.  A girl on a dragon flew a breakneck speed, she twisted and dove in the air. The picture changed to a man with his hands clasped on a large jewel. The jewel glowed bright as the man pressed harder. Kyrian gasped as Melkor's face came into view. "He must have a marse." Came Mintara's voice from behind.
 "A what?"
 "A spell in the form of an eye that renders Dragon's and their Riders immobile. I had just told Laura about it the other day hoping she would be more careful, but alas! she has not learned a bit! Stepheneis must have it on himself for no other being besides a wizard has enough power to sustain it." Mintara  gravely said. "She must be under his control now. There is no other explanation for her sudden change in behavior."
  "What can we do?" Kyrian asked standing up from her perch on the log.
 "There is nothing we can do but defeat Melkor. We cannot defeat Stepheneis with out first defeating Melkor they have shared in power I am sure. Their fates are linked just as Emerion's and Aelysha's were."
  "Why can't we kill Stepheneis first instead of Melkor?"
  "Silly girl! Do you know anything about wizards? The most powerful wizard out of the two, in this case Melkor, must be killed before the weaker may be killed."
  "So that means we're flying to Melkor's castle at the end of the world right?" Kyrian pulled her cloak closer as the fear of impending doom fell upon her.
  "Wrong, we're walking." Mintara backed away from the fire and disappeared into the darkness. "And rally the best fighters cause we leave before dawn."

    Kyrian shoved the last piece of bread into her saddle bag then ran to Tomas and Landlion's tent. "Wake up you sleepy head." she said as she pushed Tomas off his bed. He fell to the floor with a thud and shot up like a rocket when he woke. "Why you little-" he growled. He grabbed Kyrian by her shoulders and threw her down on his cot. "Get off me Tomas!" she squealed before his fist connected to her cheek. "Kyrian?"He quickly pulled his fist back. "I'm sorry darling, I didn't know it was you." Tomas pulled her up and kissed her on her cheek. "Now what was it you wanted?"
  "We're leaving in the morning to go to Melkor's. We're going there to end things once and for all. Now pack your stuff because we leave in an hour."
  "Yes dear." Tomas said mockingly as he scooped up his bag. Kyrian sprinted out of the tent to go rally more fighters for the journey.

   Landlion tossed and rolled over on his cot. Tomas held his breath hoping that the elf did not wake up. To his dismay Landlion's eyes blinked open and he sat up. "What are you doing Tomas?" he asked. "Nothing, I was just looking for a snack." he quickly lied. Landlion looked at him disbelievingly. "Really that's all I'm doing. See look I have an apple in my sack." He held up an apple to show the Elf.
 "You're a bad liar Tomas. Where are you going?" Landlion swung his good leg over the side of the bed and stuck it in his boot.
  "I'm not really sure, Kyrian didn't say much." His apple let out a loud crunch as he bit into it. The juice dripped down his chin and splatted on his shirt.
  "Oh, well you go have fun dude." Landlion kicked off his boot and laid back down in bed. "Don't be too wild with her." He chuckled as he got settled in bed again.
  Tomas took another bite of his apple, grabbed his cloak and left the tent.


   The air was brisk, it felt tense as if it were waiting for something terrible to happen. Tomas felt the same way. A terrible foreboding of what to happen came down upon him just like the sudden gust of wind the moment before. He slowly walked through the cluster of tents that his regiment slept in. There was a strange rustling in the air. It sounded eerily familiar. Dragon wings. He thought with alarm. He looked to the sky just as a huge burst of fire lit it up.

    He started to run. Anywhere away from the new found menace would be good.  He dodged under and around the fiery tents. A thought sparked his mind, "Kyrian!"  he screamed as the dragon took out another tent. He pushed a burning pole out of his way and leaped.